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PubNub raises $4.5M to bring real-time messaging to apps

San Francisco-based startup PubNub, which provides real-time messaging to web and mobile apps, just raised a $4.5 million Series A round of financing led by new fund Relay Ventures and Silicon Valley’s TiE Angels. The funding comes after PubNub broke a recent milestone of processing more than 100,000 messages per second.

PubNub launched in the summer of 2010 and now serves more than 1,000 customers, offering up a cloud-based service for distributing real-time messages at massive scale. The company is used by apps in social media, massively multiplayer mobile gaming, and even business collaboration  — basically anything that needs to synchronize communications between large groups of people all at once.

The company is kind of like Akamai (s AKAM) for messaging, with different distributed nodes in nine data centers around the world that relay messages between applications within a tenth of a second. With two transparent pricing plans, it charges clients based on the number of messages and the capacity that they need.

On the low end, there’s the PubNub Go service, which provides a self-serve option for smaller businesses. PubNub Go costs $15 a month, with customers paying an addition $10 for 10 million messages. For those customers who need more help, the startup offers PubNub Galaxy, which defines pricing based on the number of messages sent as well as the capacity of real-time connections.

PubNub can be used for mobile applications on a number of different platforms and development frameworks, including iOS, (s AAPL) Android, (s GOOG) JavaScript, (s ORCL) Blackberry, (s RIMM) Windows Phone, (s MSFT) Node.JS, Python, Ruby and more.

After two years of bootstrapping, the startup currently has 10 full-time employees and 10 contractors. According to CEO Todd Greene, who joined PubNub after the sale of his last startup, Loyalize, to Function(x) (maker of the Viggle second-screen social TV app), the funding will be used to expand the platform and add more features to the service.

As a side note, PubNub’s financing is one of the first public investments by Relay Ventures, a new fund devoted to enabling new mobile app technologies. Other investments by Relay include Appcelerator, Appia, QuickPlay Media and Xobni. Founding members of the Relay Ventures team include investors from JLA Ventures, RBC Venture Partners and Woodside Fund, among others.

4 Responses to “PubNub raises $4.5M to bring real-time messaging to apps”

  1. Todd Greene

    @David, @Sergey: Group chat is only a small use case for PubNub. PubNub can reproduce a packet of data to 100,000s of users instantly…this isn’t something you can do with XMPP. For example, many social TV apps use PubNub to sync mobile app experiences and game state with live TV broadcasts across a nationwide audience. That’s why data replication across regions is so important: low latency for people in many geographies subscribed to the same PubNub data channel. The same goes for streaming video sites, live blogs, and live social sharing sites that have large audiences viewing the same data at the same time. (Todd, CEO PubNub)

  2. David Robins

    hell! we developed a real time messaging integrated in our collaboration app which supports real time group chat and a lot more in a couple of months with two developers….